“Find your joy.”
I have uttered this statement more in the past four months than I care to think about or admit. And it has absolutely nothing to do with the brilliant Marie Kondo and her life-changing guide to decluttering. I’m speaking these words to working professionals whose job it is to enrich the lives of children.
And they are miserable.
It’s no secret that teachers have a lot on their plates. We’ve all seen the memes, read the articles, heard about the strikes. And the most amazing thing is that despite the great publicity, the pile seems to get bigger and bigger every year. So, when I started a job that allows me to work closely with teachers around my district, I was not shocked to be interacting with people who were overworked and overwhelmed. I mostly expected it. Instead, what keeps me up at night is hearing from teachers who have been doing this job for a long time (and doing it pretty darn well) that there is no joy in it for them anymore.
What’s that saying? “If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life.” I truly believe this is not only attainable but necessary. YOLO. (As the kids say…do they still say that?) But it’s up to each of us to decide where we are going to uncover our joy each day.
My husband’s aunt passed away a month ago after an all too brief battle with cancer. At her funeral, the eulogies zeroed in on the things that made her happy. She made it very clear to everyone who knew her where her joy lived, and she put admirable effort into living that joy every moment she could. Nobody is remembering her for how stressful her job as a nurse must have been or the ways in which her children drove her crazy. They remark on her dedication to the care of others, her deep love for her children and her grandchildren, and the immense joy those brought her every day.
So here I am on my soapbox advocating for the resurrection of joy. I don’t have any answers for where to find it or how to create it. All I know is that it’s necessary. And life is too short.